KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Esports meets baseball in Kansas City, Missouri. The Global Halo Championship series is in town, and Kauffman Stadium is hosting the pre-party.
Over the weekend, more than 250,000 pairs of eyes will be on the city of fountains watching the future of sports.
Ahead of the tournament this weekend, gamers get to practice on the jumbotron at Kauffman Stadium. The “George Bretts” of esports are controlling the screen.
If it weren’t for a partnership between the Kansas City Pioneers and the Royals, some players said they would just be hunkered down in front of a TV at an Airbnb.
“By bringing them to the Kauffman and putting together this bootcamp, we were able to give them a much better access to connection to internet,” Co-Founder of Kansas City Pioneers Sam Kulikov said. “This is a premium environment for players to practice.”
The Global Halo Championship Series in Kansas City is expected to draw in more than 5,000 people from around the world.
There are teams from Australia, Mexico and Europe.
Kulikov is the co-founder of our home team, the No. 6 ranked Kansas City Pioneers. He said this tourney is comparable to hosting an American League Championship Series.
“But instead of two teams, we’re talking 24 teams playing against each other,” Kulikov said. “So, we’re hoping to take that number one spot here in the home town, and of course make our way to the world championship and bring home a world champ for Kansas City.”
The tournament at Kauffman is just the warmup. It’s a three-day bootcamp in the Diamond Club, a premium environment for players to practice with top-notch internet connection.
“It’s quite crucial to be honest,” professional Halo player Brendan Stones AKA “Respectful” said.
Stones is on a team from the United Kingdom. He had two days of travel to get to KC and said the jet lag is real.
“Essentially you’re a normal person, but once you put the headset on , you get into the groove into the game. You block out the outside world and you’re just tunnel visioning on one thing and that’s competing with your teammates to beat the other team,” Stones said.
Right now, Stones represents the Royals’ new City Connect gear. They even put each players’ game tag on the back.
This is one of the first partnerships between professional esports and Major League Baseball.
“They love competition, we love completion so it’s really a perfect fit for us,” Royals Vice President of Brand Innovation Troy Snethen said. “Sports definitely brings people together, and it does it in different ways. E-gaming is no different than coming to baseball game.”
The players clear out of Kauffman Stadium on Thursday. The real tournament starts Friday at Bartle Hall. The prize pool is worth $250,000.
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